The 2018-19 hockey season hasn’t even started yet and the Flyers are already down one significant player.
Sean Couturier, who enjoyed a career year last season as the team’s No. 1 center, will miss four weeks with a knee injury (though officially unconfirmed) the team announced on Wednesday.
According to general manager Ron Hextall, Couturier was injured on Aug. 10 while playing in an offseason charity game in Canada.
Couturier has had knee issues in the past, so a likely guess is this might be an aggravation of something that was already there.
He actually suffered a ligament injury in the playoff series against Pittsburgh this past April.
“It (the Aug. 10 injury) was kind of an innocent play,’’ Hextall said during a media conference call Wednesday afternoon. “Things happen.’’
Hextall said he expects Couturier to participate “partially’’ at the start of training camp.
“And then we believe about halfway through camp he will be full-go,’’ Hextall said. “And participating in some preseason games.’’
The Flyers officially open play on Oct. 4 at Las Vegas, so if all goes well, Couturier should be pretty much up to speed.
The GM said no surgery will be required.
“It’s not a re-injury,’’ Hextall insisted. “He was a hundred percent at the time. He had more than enough time to heal after the season.
“It’s not the exact same spot (as the injury which took place vs. Pittsburgh.’’
Hextall said Couturier got injured near the net.
“It was a rebound and his leg just went the wrong way,’’ Hextall said. “More of a freak (play) more than anything.’’
Hextall said players are “free’’ to play in these types of games.
“We don’t want to hold our guys from playing in charity games,’’ Hextall said. “But things like this happen, obviously it makes you pause, think and wonder if these kinds of things are necessary or not, like are there other ways to raise money for charities.
“These things don’t happen that often. There’s no body contact going on in these games. Doing things for charity are a terrific thing but something like this, you wonder how many guys are playing in those types of things. But it’s for a good cause.’’
Couturier set career highs for goals, assists and points last season. He was a finalist for the Selke Trophy for NHL top defensive forward.
Hextall wants to get Couturier into about four preseason games.
Is Couturier going to be more susceptible to injuries of this type now?
“I don’t believe so,’’ Hextall said. “This type of injury heals fairly quickly and fairly well. He will be wearing a brace.’’
Hextall said he doesn’t think the Flyers will move Claude Giroux back to center in training camp to fill in for Couturier.